Something I struggled with for a long time is chronic neck and shoulder pain when working with my computer. For the largest part of my life, I sat behind my computer like the hunchback of Notre Dame.
Well meant ergonomic advice, a standing desk, and using the mouse with my left hand only gave temporary relief.
The only thing that solves the problem structurally is going to the gym.
The problem is that I experienced being in the gym as exciting as watching grass grow. Besides, I always took the words of the apostle Paul “For bodily exercise profiteth little” (1 Tim 4:8) perhaps a little too close to heart.
If getting back in shape is part of your past summer holiday intentions – here are three things that got me back in the gym earlier this year!
1 Location, location, location
A couple of years ago I was regularly abroad on a long-term assignment and I wanted to become a member of a gym again. I faced the choice between options. A fitness club that was 800 m away for € 20/month, or a gym 400 m away for € 40/month (distances checked with Google Maps during my decision-making process). After ample deliberations, I opted for the second one, because I knew I needed to make my ‘barriers to entry’ as low as possible.
History repeats: the gym I am currently visiting is by far the most expensive in my vicinity, but it is only 500 m away…
2 Synergy effects
As I said before, I experience the gym activities themselves – the ‘being in the moment’ as it were – as beyond boring. I do not get a special feeling if I lift weights for instance.
The solution I found was rewarding myself (‘in the moment) with music I loved as a student on my on-ear headphones. In this way, I create a ‘synergy effect’ between my need to exercise and a nostalgic trip down memory lane or catching up with bands my children like.
3 Visualize the victory in your mind
I know that physically and mentally I always feel much better after a workout. Picturing this future state of mind really helps me to get up early in the morning when facing a choice between staying in bed, jumping into my emails, or (literally) facing the music and going to the gym.
Why physical exercise is especially important now
The 2.000-year-old words of the Roman poet Juvenal: ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’ (A healthy mind in a healthy body) were probably spot on. Studies have demonstrated that ‘low cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength have a significant association with worse mental health’.
We live in uncertain times. The war in Ukraine, climate change, rapidly rising Inflation, and, recently, increased tension around Taiwan, pose issues that many of us thought we never had to deal with. In these circumstances, we need to be on top of our game regarding our decision-making skills.
According to McKinsey
‘…attending to one’s own physical well-being is not selfish. Rather, physical and mental health are necessary to build sound decision-making skills amid uncertainty.
Do not overdo it
Finally a word of caution. Do not overdo it! I am currently treated for Achilles inflammation since I also decided to get back to playing squash again. …which is a brilliant excuse to leave my squash racket alone for a few weeks, and get my racing bike back in working order!
I wish you a healthy remainder of 2022!